Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

We buy and sell paintings by Pegi Nicol MacLeod.  For inquiries, please contact us.

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Central Park, New York"

Oil on canvas 17" x 31" (SOLD)

"I try to turn my weird street into something rich and strange."
(Pegi Nicol MacLeod, 1945)

 

Pegi Nicol MacLeod's watercolours and oil paintings are fireworks of curving lines and dynamic colour. The artist took her subject matter from the world around her - children, gardens, and crowded city street scenes - to convey the energy and bustle of daily life.

 

Born Margaret Nichol, MacLeod studied at the Ottawa School of Art with Franklin Brownell and at Montreal's École des Beaux-Arts, where she met her lifelong friend, the painter Marian Scott. In 1927 and 1928, encouraged by the anthropologist Marius Barbeau, she travelled to Western Canada to paint the landscape and people of the First Nations. In Toronto from 1934, she worked on window displays for the T. Eaton Co. under the designer René Cera. The following year she began to contribute illustrations and write for the Canadian Forum, becoming its arts editor for a brief period. After her marriage to Norman MacLeod, a native of Fredericton, she moved to New York City in 1937, where she painted the city's street life and numerous studies of her young daughter, Jane. Between 1940 and 1948 she visited Fredericton, where she taught summer art courses at the University of New Brunswick. During the Second World War, MacLeod was commissioned to paint the women's division of the Canadian armed forces.

 

MacLeod belonged to the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and the Canadian Group of Painters. The influence of the Group of Seven is evident in her earliest landscapes. By 1933 she was beginning to paint in a more expressive style, and soon experimented with repetitive views, which she called "kaleidoscope vision." Pegi Nicol MacLeod's works include "A Descent of Lilies" (1935), "Cold Window" (1937), "Flower Market I" and "Flower Market II", and illustrations for an unpublished book by Lillian Zanet, "Webster the Pig" (c.1942).

 

 

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada.

 

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Canadian Winter", 1931

Oil on canvas 31" x 26" (SOLD)

Born at Listowell, Ontario, the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. William W. Nichol. Her father was a teacher at Glebe Collegiate and later principal at the Ottawa Technical High School. She attended Cartier Street Public School and Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa and studied painting three years under Franklin Brownell at the Ottawa Art Association. She continued her studies at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Montreal, around 1922, for one year and during that period won five medals for her outstanding work. At the Beaux-Arts she studied alongside of Marian Scott and Lillian Freiman.

 

 From 1910 until 1934 she lived at home in Ottawa where she continued to work at her painting. In 1927 she travelled west to Alberta where she painted among the Stoney Indians. In 1928 she went further afield to the Skeena River, B.C., with Dr. Marius Barbeau, where she was able to paint the West Coast Indians. She did many paintings along the Gatineau River and hills and one of her scenes entitled "The Log Run" was awarded the Willingdon Prize in 1931. This same year she held a solo show at the Lysle Courtenay Studios on Sparks Street where she exhibited mostly landscapes and a few portraits including one of Marian Scott. In 1932 she held her first Montreal solo show at Eaton's. She did illustrations for French Canadian stories adapted by Dr. Barbeau which appeared in La Presse during the early months of 1933. Thirty of her paintings were shown at the Ottawa Art Association covering a wide range of subject matter also in 1933.

 

She often visited the home of Maud and Eric Brown. Eric Brown was Director of the National Gallery of Canada from 1913 until his death in 1939. In her book Breaking Barriers F. Maud Brown describes those evenings as follows, It was a happy day when we first met Peggy Nichol. She was then about eighteen and was studying at the Beaux-Arts in Montreal. Peggy was an astonishing person. She was short and sturdy, with an intelligent, pretty face. Bursting with vitality and ideas she was always ready for a discussion. She could act, dance, and ski, and was fear­less in the water. She was like a very much younger sister, and our house was her second home. We had special fun when Arthur Lismer was in Ottawa. Usually Harry and Dorothy McCurry, Kathleen Fenwick, Peggy, and often one or two others, would come in the evening. As Arthur's pencil simply could not stay in his pocket, he would begin to sketch, perhaps Eric with the cats or Peggy with locks of her hair getting into her eyes. Then more pencils and paper would appear, and we would all sit round sketching each other while Eric read from 1066 and All That or The Young Visiters. We laughed and chatted all evening till it was time for a late snack in the kitchen. One of Peggy's sketches of Eric Brown appears in Breaking Barriers opposite a sketch of Peggy by Arthur Lismer,

 

Her departure from Ottawa opened new horizons for her in Toronto. There she was employed at window display under René Cera at the T. Eaton Company. In both cities she was active in the theatre. She had been actress and dramatist in Ottawa and in Toronto designed scenery for the Hart House Theatre.

 

In 1937 she married Norman MacLeod (originally from Fredericton, N.B.) who became Vice-President of the Balaban-Gordon Company, Inc., of New York City, a firm of contractors and engineers. The MacLeods moved into their New York apartment soon after their marriage. In the years that followed they had one daughter, Jane, and Pegi MacLeod began filling her sketch book with studies of Jane and her friends at play. Many of her paintings done in Ottawa had been of children at work at the Ottawa Public School Gardens on Second Avenue next to her own home. But the streets of New York City held a new challenge for her with their vigorous colour and action. Writing of her New York period, Donald W. Buchanan noted, . . . there in New York, the actions and events she watched were so multitudinous, the sensations she obtained from colour and motion so fluid and changing, that her own extreme sensitivity to all these stimuli proved at times almost her own undoing. She tried to put down on canvas and paper every aspect of the chaotic bustle that met her eyes from her windows on Eighty-Eighth Street; she wished to leave nothing out. As a result, in many of those pictures, the surface overflows with figures in motion, it is packed with now sinuous and graceful, now wavering and erratic, lines and shapes. She tackled, one would think, the impos­sible in trying to depict so much within the necessarily restricted limitations of easel painting. Some of her conceptions demanded rather the vast space of murals. Yet, remarkably enough, one sometimes comes across single water colours - for instance, her impression she did of jostling crowds before the giant Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza - which in a small space, manage through subtle and brilliant colours and flowing line to give adequately to the spectator all she wanted to express of humanity, in its variety, rising vigorous and triumphant over the mechanism of the metropolis.

 

During the summers from 1940 until just before her death she conducted art classes at summer school of the University of New Brunswick in the Fiddlehead Observatory (Brydone Jack Observatory), originally built in 1826. Barbara E.S. Fisher described her school as follows, You can't help feeling when you talk to Pegi MacLeod that it would be great fun to let her 'uncork' your talents at Fiddlehead, or anywhere else. You could feel quite secure in her hands, because primarily she would encourage you in your own individual way of self-expression. In teaching, she devotes two weeks to formal drawing, using the great elms on the campus, the terrace, and the colorful Fredericton market as subjects. A 15-minute lecture each morning, and the students are on their own. The theory of color as expressed by the impressionists comes next, and they go right into the use of oils, using one primary color at a time, with white, then one primary and one secondary, till when the six weeks have gone by, they are using the full range of colors. The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton, recalled Mrs. MacLeod and her young daughter were familiar figures in our community and many will recall seeing Pegi MacLeod painting from the steps of the City Hall, the colorful scene of the market.

 

In 1944 she was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada to paint the activities of the three women's services and produced 110 oil and water colour paintings, now in the war collection of the Gallery. Following the war years she returned to depicting the scenes of New York City and in 1947 exhibited her oil and water colour paintings in Toronto and Ottawa under the title Manhattan Cycle.

 

In 1949 she died in New York City after an eight month illness at the age of forty-five. Writing of her passing the late Graham McInnes paid her the following tribute, Her painting was simple, gay and direct. It caught life on the wing, arresting for a moment in vivid pattern its shifting kaleidoscope. Those figures that she set down so freely remain as light as the touch of a snow­flake, and as deft as a weaver's shuttle. She found people - plain people - fasci­nating, and in painting them in a thousand gay and accidental groupings she poured out her almost inexhaustible vitality. It is a cruel irony that she who, for so many of those who knew her, personified the ageless spirit of enthusiasm and enquiry, should herself have been cut down in her prime. All one can say is that her paintings - of Ottawa, Toronto, the Gatineau, the North Shore, Manhattan - with their extraordinary brightness, their unforced gaiety and their often undisciplined exuberance, remain behind her to lighten a world shadowed by her passing, and to add to the achievement of Canadian painting.

 

She was a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (1936); the Canadian Group of Painters (1937) and she also exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists, the Royal Canadian Academy and in several annual exhibitions of the National Gallery of Canada. She is represented in the following collections: National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Beaverbrook Gallery, Fredericton, N.B.; Hamilton Art Gallery, Ont.; Sir George Williams University, Mtl.; The Brydone Jack Observatory, and Chemistry Department of the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B.; by two murals at the Fisher Vocational School, Woodstock, N.B., and in the following private collections; Mr. & Mrs. L.B. Pearson, Ottawa; F. Maud Brown, Ottawa; Miss Kathleen M. Fenwick, Ottawa; Dr. & Mrs. D.J. MacLeod, Fredericton, N.B.; Mrs. C.J. Mersereau, Fred., N.B.; Dr. Colin B. MacKay, Fred., N.B.; A. Davidson Dunton, Ottawa, Ont.; Mr. & Mrs. A. Millman, Mtl.; formerly in collections of the late R.T. Hon. Vincent Massey (former Gov. Gen. of Can.); the late Donald W. Buchanan; the late Duncan Campbell Scott; the late Douglas Duncan and others. During her career her work appeared in the following exhibitions: Artists of the British Empire Overseas; Royal Institute Galleries, Lond., Eng.; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Eng. (1937); A Century of Canadian Art, Tate Gallery, Lond., Eng. (1938); Canadian Water Colours, Gloucester, Eng. (1939); New York World's Fair (1939); Pintura canadense contemporanea, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (1944); The Development of Painting in Canada (1945); Canadian War Art (1945); Canadian Women Artists (1947) and the following retrospective exhibitions: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1950); Nat. Gal. of Can. (1950); Western Canadian Art Circuit at Regina College (1951); West End Gallery, Mtl. (1951); Univ. of N.B., Fred., N.B. (1962); Sir Geo. Williams Univ., Mtl. (1964); Royal Gallery, Mtl. (1964). Her memorial exhibition took place at the National Gallery of Canada in 1949.

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald,

and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

 

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Amateur Hockey"

Watercolour 24.3/4" x 19.3/4" (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Girl Sucking Her Thumb" (probably the artist's daughter)

Oil on double-sided panel 20" x 24" (SOLD)

 

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"The Log Run", c. 1930

Oil on panel 24" x 24" (SOLD)

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Tenement Windows", c. 1946

Oil on canvas 33" x 24" (SOLD)

 

Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, Canadian Art Dealer & Gallery in Montreal

Pegi Nicol MacLeod (1904-1949)

"Flowers in Window", c. 1935

Oil on canvas 19.1/2" x 20.1/2" (SOLD)